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You may be able to seal past marijuana cases immediately

Produced by Attorney Pauline Quirion, Greater Boston Legal Services
Created December 2016

Voters approved a ballot question that made possession of small amounts of marijuana legal. The new law went into effect December 15, 2016. It allows anyone over age 21 to have small amounts of marijuana at home and to carry up to two ounces without criminal penalties. G.L. c. 94G, § 13(e).

1. What is the effect of the new law on past criminal cases for marijuana possession?

The Massachusetts sealing law lets you seal crimes that are no longer criminal offenses. G.L. c 276, § 100A. If you have a past criminal case for marijuana possession and the case involved only 2 ounces or less of marijuana, you can seal the possession case now instead of having to wait for the waiting period to expire. The new law covers only charges for “possession” and not “possession with the intent to distribute” or other drug crimes.

If you were arrested for possession of marijuana because you had marijuana plants in your home, you also can seal your case without waiting any longer if the conviction was for:

  1. up to 6 plants in the home if you lived alone at the time, or
  2. up to 12 plants if one or more other persons (age 21 or over) lived with you.

2. Where do I get the paperwork to request sealing of a decriminalized offense?

See a sample form and a blank petition you can fill out and mail to the Commissioner of Probation at One Ashburton Place, Boston, MA 02108 to seal your case(s).

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